Highway departments doing OK

B y Jaime Thomas

Despite heavy storms and more snow this winter than in recent years, local highway departments are holding their own.

With less than half of the season left, area towns are reporting enough salt, sand and budgetary allotments.

In the town of Granville, Highway Superintendent Eric Towne said though supplies are dwindling, he has been keeping ahead of everything. Along with his peers, he said he orders salt enough ahead of time to stay full, but salt is harder to get.

“Everybody’s used so much, and it’s in such demand, they just can’t keep up with demand,” Towne said. Others reported a similar delay.

“They’re a little slow now. Before it took only two or three days; now it takes almost 10 days,” said Dan Williams, the village’s superintendent of public works. Most of these officials have been at it for some years, though, so they know to stay stocked.

“We’ve been pretty good over-calculating. I try to keep roughly 100 tons on hand,” Williams said. “Right now my salt bin’s full; I can easily do eight to 10 runs before I worry.”

A single salt run in the village uses between 12 and 15 of those tons, and Williams said he might be about $6,000 over budget for salt by the end of the season. He also mentioned the amount of diesel fuel and regular gas the workers used in plowing and snow removal.

Whitehall Highway Superintendent Louie Pratt and Hampton Highway Superintendent Herb Sady said they both receive loads of salt on Monday. Louie Pratt said he has used more salt this year than in the previous two winters combined.

“We’ll be alright into spring, but its next December we have to worry about. You can’t forget next December, that’s on the budget too,” he said.

In Hartford, Highway Superintendent Greg Brown said he used more material halfway though this winter than he did by the end of each of the last two winters.

“You use just as much for the small ones as you do for the big ones,” he said. “Right now we’re OK; we might be close by the end of the winter. He thinks the town is in good shape and sees this season as a “regular winter.”

“It’s something we should always be prepared for. I think it’s something all the departments should be prepared for,” Brown said.

It appears local departments are prepared; most of the superintendents said even their overtime budget will stay in line. Williams explained that the department of public works pays employees out of three different funds: general, water and sewer.

“My overtime budget is doing good right now; it’s very, very rarely that we actually go over on overtime,” he said.

Floyd Pratt, Hebron highway superintendent, said the ice has been harder on his crew than the piling snow. He said he might be over budget for overtime by the end of the season, but not hugely so.

“Winter’s winter—we live where we live,” he said.

Towne said his overtime budget is safe for the time being, but his crew is ready for a respite.

“The guys have had plenty of that; they’re ready for a break,” he said.

“Overtime is more because we’ve been out there more, but the guys have been doing a great job,” Sady said.

And with snow and ice comes pot holes, which supervisors say are more prolific this year.

“We’ve got a few more pot holes than we’ve had in years past. We’ll have to fix that when the weather warms up,” Pratt said. Towne said snow and water keep filling the holes, preventing crews from repairing them.

Williams said he has a specific line item in his budget for patching potholes, which he almost never surpasses. He said public works employees use a material that provides a temporary fix until they spots can be fully filled in spring.

All of the men said barring several more large storms, they’ll stay in line with their projected needs for the winter.

“Everything’s going very well; I’m looking forward to spring,” Towne said.

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